Mahatir at Proton Centre in Shah Alam
Mahathir bin Mohamad; born 10 July 1925, is a Malaysian politician who was the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia. He held the post for 22 years from 1981 to 2003, making him Malaysia's longest serving Prime Minister. His political career spanned almost 40 years.
Born and raised in Alor Setar, Kedah, Mahathir excelled at school and became a medical doctor. He became active in the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), Malaysia's largest political party, before entering parliament in 1964. He served one term before losing his seat, after falling out with the then Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman and being expelled from UMNO. When Abdul Rahman resigned, Mahathir re-entered UMNO and parliament, and was promoted to the Cabinet. By 1976, he had risen to Deputy Prime Minister, and in 1981 was sworn in as Prime Minister after the resignation of his predecessor, Hussein Onn.
During Mahathir's tenure as Prime Minister, Malaysia experienced a period rapid modernisation and economic growth, and his government initiated a series of bold infrastructure projects. He was a dominant political figure, winning five consecutive general elections and holding off all of his rivals for the leadership of UMNO. However, his accumulation of power came at the expense of the independence of the judiciary and the traditional powers and privileges of Malaysia's royalty. He also deployed the controversial Internal Security Act to detain activists, non-mainstream religious figures, and political opponents including his fired deputy, Anwar Ibrahim. Mahathir's record of curbing civil liberties and his antagonism to western interests and economic policy made his relationships with the US, Britain and Australia, among others, difficult. As Prime Minister, he was an advocate of third-world development and a prominent international activist for causes, such as the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa and the interests of Bosnians in the 1990s Balkans conflict.
He remains an active political fi